Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Jacobite Express

Early morning walk and it was mild with no wind and explored Cow Hill and Nevis Forest directly behind my hotel then the shoreline of Loch Linnhe east of Fort William. A couple of distant Red Grouse, Wheatear, Whinchat and Meadow Pipits on the high ground along with Golden Plover while the forest had fly over calling Crossbills, Tree Pipit and Siskin. The shoreline had Common Sandpiper, Rock Pipit, Siskin, Hooded Crow, Oystercatcher and a family party of Grey Wagtails. Back in time for breakfast then made my way to the station where the Jacobite was a popular tourist attraction being pulled by LMS Stanier Class 5 45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier' one of four steam engines based at Fort William. The others are 44871 which had been allocated to pull the afternoon service (seen passing Glenfinnan station on our way back), 62005 Lord of the Isles was seen on shed while 61994 The Great Marquess was away.
I had been allocated a seat in the second coach from the rear and could hear her working the gradient as she left Fort William with Ben Nevis towering over the town as we climbed steadily towards Glenfinnan station passing over the Glenfinnan viaduct and its stunning views towards Loch Shiel. Unfortunately others had beaten me to the few open windows available so had to make do with pictures showing a reflection. After a short stop at Glenfinnan where I managed to hear Wood Warbler and see Siskin, Willow Warbler and Hooded Crow we made our way west passing through more stunning scenery till we reached the coastal port of Mallaig. The two hours here limited the time I had to search for wildlife so after quick lunch over looking the harbour and the distant mountains of Skye I wandered over to the west side of the town and explored the coastal side of the A830 with views of the isles Eigg and Rum finding Northern Marsh and Small White Orchid amongst the roadside vegetation. Being a warm sunny afternoon I sat on the rocks and searched the Sound of Sleat managing single Guillemot Black-throated Diver and Seal plus 3 Gannet, 7 Shag and 5 Kittiwake before making my way back to the station where more Northern Marsh Orchids were growing and a Herring Gull chick entertained the crowds from our platform while the train was made ready. There is no turntable at Mallaig so the train has to run round the carriages and returns tender first. The rain finally arrived as we headed back but I was now sitting near the engine so I have been a sad bugger and recorded her puffing away for a couple of minutes on my phone so I can grip the boys back home off.
Extremely wet back in Fort William so an early dinner in the N4 restaurant (strongly recommended) before trying my luck searching for moths as it had become very muggy. Many moths were on the wing but with no net I struggled to identify them all but id Green Carpet, Bordered White, Yellow-ringed Carpet and Clouded Border. Woodcock flew over before the mozzies moved in.

45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier' at Fort William Station

going over Glenfinnan viaduct

45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier'  at Port Mallaig 

overlooking the Sound of Sleat, Mallaig

44871  passing Glenfinnan station    

view from Glenfinnan viaduct

Ben Nevis and Fort William

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